Mar 31, 2021 - News

Reservations, masks: The future of office work in Denver

Reproduced from Deloitte CFO Signals survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

Top Colorado companies anticipate returning to the office this summer, but executives say it won't feel the same.

  • "There's a transformation of work. It's not really a return to what it was before," says Bryan Leach, the CEO of Ibotta, a Denver-based tech company that operates a shopping app.
  • "Our mantra is we are going to be flexible, adaptable and empathetic," said John Hayes, CEO of Ball Corporation in Westminster.

The big picture: The pandemic scrambled the workplace landscape in Colorado and across the nation, and what workers find when they return to the office won't feel familiar.

What they're saying: Leach and other business leaders guided us through their thinking about what will change when it comes to the Denver metro area's office culture.

  • When offices open, employees may need to book a reservation for a work space.
  • Work from home will remain a fixture with certain in-office days to support collaboration.
  • Mask requirements will start as the norm, and vaccinated employees may be the only ones initially allowed into the office.

Yes, but: A company with a strong office culture after the pandemic may help differentiate them from competitors.

  • "There's an opportunity to lean into the experience and make it an experience worth the commute," Leach said. "If you can build that you can really build that differentiation from these coastal employers."

Many employers spent time this last year upgrading their buildings to improve the air filters and flow, said Kelly Brough, the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

  • "All of it to really make sure teams are comfortable and confident as they’re coming back into the office," she added.

Flashback: Just as the pandemic hit Colorado, Leach organized a weekly Monday conference call with a few dozen top executives to talk about how to respond.

  • The companies collectively endorsed a stay-at-home approach to help flatten the curve and pushed political leaders to do the same.

The calls continue but less often. Still, Leach says it made a lasting impact by building "a little cooperation where friendly competition had been there before."

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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